EAST MEADOW, NY — The New York Islanders were back on the practice ice on Monday as they prepare for their biggest week of the season. While he hasn’t been officially activated off Injured Reserve, the Islanders welcomed Jean-Gabriel Pageau back to practice.
— Stefen Rosner (@stefen_rosner) March 6, 2023
Here’s how the Islandes lined up at practice:
Anders Lee-Bo Horvat-Pierre Engvall
Zach Parise-Brock Nelson-Kyle Palmieri
Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Hudson Fasching
Simon Holmstrom-Otto Koivula/JG Pageau-Josh Bailey
*Ross Johnston extra
Adam Pelech-Scott Mayfield
Alexander Romanov-Ryan Pulock
Sebastian Aho-Noah Dobson
*Parker Wotherspoon extra
Pageau did take part in the second penalty-kill unit.
The Islanders currently have 23 players on their roster, but since the trade deadline has come and gone, there’s no roster limit. So if they were to activate Pageau, no one would need to be sent down.
However, Otto Koivula is the likely player to be sent down if they do decide to go that route, as he is the only Islander on the roster that is eligible to play in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Pageau had missed nine games with a lower-body injury, and if he can return for their Tuesday night game against the Buffalo Sabres, that would be a massive boost as he wears many hats for his club.
“It’s huge,” Kyle Palmieri told NYI Hockey Now. “I mean, obviously, these are big games, a huge week for us starting tomorrow night, and I think getting Pageau back is big.
“He’s such a key player for us. He plays in every situation. Obviously, having a right-hand centerman back that’s big for different situations. So he was a huge piece, to begin with. And when you start missing pieces, it’s nice to get an addition like Pageau back.”
Islanders head coach Lane Lambert had this to say:
All three of those opponents are vying for one of the wild-card spots, the Islanders holding a slim one-point lead over Pittsburgh for the top spot. Pittsburgh has played three fewer games.
Buffalo and Washington sit four points back of the Islanders, with the Sabres having four games in hand while the Capitals have one.
The Islanders have gone 4-1-1 over their last six games and are coming off a dominating win over the Detroit Red Wings.
“Continuing to do what we’ve been doing is extremely important,” Islanders captain Anders Lee said. “We got Buffalo coming in who’s dynamic offensively and can put up a lot of goals.
“So we just really got to really got to bear down and do what we’ve been doing.”
Lambert and his club have always been a “one game at a time” team, and that mindset is more critical than ever.
“It’s extremely important,” Lambert said. “And you’re right. It is a big week. We know that, but you can’t get ahead of yourselves in any way, shape, or form. So we’re just worried about Buffalo.”